We all know the importance of hygiene, but some babies hate bath time. It can be difficult to reason with a baby about the importance of keeping clean. More often, one bad bath time experience leads to another, and another, until the built up layers of negative experiences cause a general fear of bathing. I must confess, I was once one of those babies that didn’t deal well with bath time. With some help from mommy, I managed to overcome my bath time fears and I am now perfectly content in the tub. If I can do it, so can you. Here are my tips for better bath time.
1. Bath Time is for Happy Babies
If your baby is feeling grumpy, it’s not time to start that bath. Don’t you know what happens when you get a gremlin wet? Unless your baby adores bath time, adding water to the equation is probably not going to help the situation. To increase your chances of success, you need to plan a bath into the routine of the day. The little person needs to be well rested, fed, and burped. Give that baby a break after eating to make sure all that bath time activity isn’t going to cause an upset tummy. If the day isn’t going as planned, postpone that bath for another day. Babies don’t need to bathe daily. In fact, many pediatricians recommend no more than 2-3 baths per week. Too much bathing can be drying to the skin.
2. Bath Time is for Happy Adults
Grumpy adults don’t deal well with water either. If you’re already in a bad mood, it’s not baby bath time. On a good day you’ll get splashed in the face with water. On a bad day you’ll be peed on or worse. There may be tears involved. Hopefully not yours. Are you in the frame of mind to deal with chaos in a calm fashion?
Once bath time is underway, try to stay calm. If your baby hates bathing, it can be a difficult ordeal to deal with. Being stressed and worried is not helping. If you’re worried, your baby will assume that there is reason to worry. Remember that bath time is not harmful to your baby. Crying is just what we babies do to let you know we don’t like that. Even if you feel like you’re falling apart on the inside, act calm and comforting on the outside. A positive demeanor can turn things around.
3. Be Prepared
You already know that you can’t leave a baby unattended in the tub even for a moment. You need all your supplies within reach before you start. Make a plan and be sure you’ll have what you need, where you need it. You begin with a dirty, clothed, dry baby, and you need to end with a clean, clothed, dry baby. What steps are required to make that happen?
Where are you going to undress your baby? Will the little person be comfortable? Is it a good idea to have an un-diapered baby lay there? While in the bath, you will need wash cloths, body wash, shampoo, and whatever gear you find comfortable for rinsing. What is the exit strategy? Does it involve you doing a sprint to the far end of the house with a dripping wet infant in your arms? Do you have a towel ready to go, or will you find yourself fumbling with a folded towel while you juggle a slippery wet baby? Don’t forget that you’re going to need a clean diaper. You don’t want your baby ending up dirtier than when you started because you didn’t have that crucial step worked into your game plan.
4. Warm Water Please
Do you enjoy a cool bath? If you’re like most people, you would probably prefer a warm bath instead. Babies feel the same way. Nobody wants to be dunked in a tub of frigid water. When preparing baby’s bath, imagine that you’re the one that has to get in there. If it seems comfortable for you, it’s probably going to be comfortable for the baby. You’re not going to scald a baby with comfortably warm water.
5. Mind the Weather
Imagine what it feels like to get nice and warm in a bath, and then have to towel off in a cold room. The combination of being cold and wet is terrible. You, an adult, cope with this by drying yourself as quickly as possible. We babies prefer to scream about it while we clench our extremities to ourselves, only extending them for the purpose of frantic flailing of arms and legs. This may make it difficult for you to towel us dry, but nobody said babies were going to make your life easy. To prevent this situation, keep in mind the ambient temperature of the room, and imagine what that’s going to feel like to a wet and naked little body. Buy a portable heater if you need to.
6. Keep it Short
I know you want to make that baby squeaky clean, but no matter how much you scrub, that baby will get dirty again. Focus on the priority areas first. Around the mouth, the neck, under the arms, and anything that gets covered with a diaper. Next, move on to any areas where your baby is prone to rashes and breakouts. If your baby isn’t fussy by this point, proceed to wash everything else. This way, if your baby starts to get antsy, you can wrap that bath up quickly.
7. Make it Fun
Find ways to make bath time a positive experience. Talk to your baby. Make silly faces. Play music or sing songs. Bring some waterproof toys along. Incorporate things your baby likes into the bath time routine. Do whatever you have to in order to make it fun. Maybe you have to look like a goofy fool doing it. Just make it happen.
If bath time has become something to dread, it’s time to turn things around. Try to view each bath time as an opportunity to improve the experience, instead of as an unavoidable horror. If your strategy isn’t working, stop doing it. Try something different until you find what works for you and your baby.